South African climate activist and professor. He is the director of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. He is author of two new books, Durban’s Climate Gamble: Playing the Carbon Markets, Betting the Earth and Politics of Climate Justice: Paralysis Above, Movement Below.
One of the core solutions to reducing climate change proposed in the Kyoto Protocol has resurfaced at the latest U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland — the creation of a carbon market. However, climate activists here say it is a "false solution" pushed by bankers and bureaucrats. We speak with South African activist and professor Patrick Bond, who says negotiators should instead emphasize cutting emissions and paying climate debt.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we turn to another voice from the continent of Africa, South African activist and professor Patrick Bond. Democracy Now!'s Mike Burke caught up with him at Saturday's March for Climate and Social Justice here in Warsaw.
PATRICK BOND: I’m Patrick Bond in Durban, South Africa, the Centre for Civil Society. And two years ago in Durban, the COP 17 was a terrible disappointment. And I’m here with a lot of the activists from the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and other groups really to see if we can revive the momentum of climate justice, which we sort of lost at that point. And the enemy team, which is the bankers and the bureaucrats, are trying to revive their vision—carbon trading—as the core solution. It was in the Kyoto Protocol. And the question is whether they’re going to find any more money and subsidies to bring it back. We hope not.
PROTESTER: What do we want?
PROTESTERS: Climate justice!
PROTESTER: When do we want it?
PATRICK BOND: The carbon trading idea that the COP 19 is probably going to try to revive at the global scale really has been absolutely a failure here in Europe, and partly because the Polish government and the corporations have abused it so much. But, in general, the idea that we should turn over the planet to bankers to allow them to arrange an efficient trading of the right to pollute—carbon trading—from the Kyoto Protocol—Al Gore was very much in support of them—that’s really not worked. And now Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, has put that back onto the agenda a few weeks ago. So I’m quite worried that unless we show more of the opposition and the demand for absolute cuts, paying climate debt and not messing around with banker-type solutions like trading in rights to pollute, we might see this problem get much, much worse more quickly. It’s what we call a false solution, and therefore has to be contested, along with all the other areas of debate here, especially the fact that, again and again, the United States will come to these meetings, sabotage. And what I’m also worried about, they did an alliance the last time in Europe, in Copenhagen, with Brazil, with China, with India and South Africa, the BASIC countries. And that was why the Copenhagen Accord was such a disaster, you know, basically big polluters slapping each other on the back: "I pollute more; you pollute more—it’s a deal." And that was the nature of the last major effort to get protesters out on the streets. So we have to really redouble our efforts to make sure that configuration doesn’t occur again.
AMY GOODMAN: South African activist and professor Patrick Bond, speaking to Democracy Now!'s Mike Burke at Saturday's March for Climate and Social Justice here in Warsaw.
Before we go to break, I just wanted to give you an idea of some of the facts and figures that are all over the hallways here at the National Stadium here in Warsaw where the climate summit is taking place. Written in Polish and in English, it says, "Worldwide, 1 in 4 mammal species are now threatened by extinction, likewise 1 in 8 bird species, 1 in 3 species of fish, 2 in 5 amphibians and more than half the flowering plants and insects. Species of fauna and flora are today disappearing between 1,000 and 10,000 times more rapidly than their natural rate of extinction. We are talking about a sixth episode of mass extinction, for which this time, Man alone is responsible."
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, we’re going to go to the convergence space where hundreds of people go to organize for what happens outside the summit, and sometimes inside. And then we speak with representatives again of Africa. Stay with us.